I’m not just extremely concerned with what I say, but also where, when, why, and how I say it. This issue gets covered up by being labeled “shy.” However, that is not the only case.
I’m an over-thinker at its purest form. An over-thinker overthinking about thinking.
One of the first lessons in public speaking and interview classes is to remove unnecessary jargon or vocabulary, also known as “filler words.” I remember during presentations and face-to-face interviews with our peers, teachers would keep track of how many times we said like and umm, mark down our grades with each filler we uttered, and went on and on about how these words muddled the messages we were trying to convey.
Most importantly, teachers said that these words would reveal a lack of confidence and preparation on our part. That fact haunted me ever since.
I think about the imaginary points I would lose that could possibly shut down my credibility if the likes or umms appeared front and center, with curtains and spotlights galore. Along with the filler word gang, I imagine their friends like Shakiness, Stuttering, and Awkward Hand Gestures joining the fiasco, greeting me with their evil grins and contagious laughter.
I keep the conversations short, but my sentences much shorter. My thoughts are all completely jailed in my head, as if my voice had no role to play in all of the chatter. Words always feel locked up. Maybe that’s why when they are together they’re called sentences.
Even in the most simplest form of people-time like one-on-one conversations with loved ones, I always squirm in my seat, nod or shake my head at the good points made, say a comment or two(if I’m lucky), and then stop myself from continuing. I blame the imaginary teacher who gives me a look of disapproval when the fear in my voice breaks loose of its chains. The worst part is…
Then the drowning of my thoughts flood over me, as the overthinking ship sails me away to a new world where silence and invisibility are the only two ways to communicate.
Who knew the quiet could sound so noisy? Who knew that silence would have the power to control you?
I think about things than actually speak about them as if they feel safe and secure in my mind. Maybe if I knew where to find the key or lock combination, then I could just say all my thoughts without hesitation, instead of hiding them under the surface of my infinite doubts and cycle of worries.
But maybe, I’m not the problem.
If only the world could just embrace the uniqueness of filler words and how they add to our beautiful idiosyncrasies. If only shakiness and stuttering were signs of strength and effort, while awkward hand gestures revealed gratitude. Truth would be spoken. More would be said.
Instead of finding my voice, I hope it finds me. I hope your voice finds you.